Welcome to Week 0 of the 2022 college football season. It has been a protracted summer, however the opening week of school football is upon us — and HBCU play gets occurring Saturday when Howard faces Alabama State within the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff at 7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN App).
We have seen events just like the HBCU Legacy Bowl and the Reese’s Senior Bowl’s HBCU scouting mix help provide a more consistent pipeline of talent to the NFL. HBCU alums linebacker Shaquille Leonard and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave are amongst the perfect NFL players at their respective positions. And 4 players from the HBCU ranks were drafted within the 2022 draft:
It was probably the most HBCU players chosen since 2019 and could possibly be an indication of much more players getting drafted or signing as undrafted free agents. So who could get 2023 NFL draft attention this season?
Throughout the summer months, I spoke to countless coaches and scouts across the country and spent hours with film to place together my first HBCU watch list. Listed here are my top 50 draft-eligible HBCU prospects, including players in each the FCS and Division II ranks (though it excludes recent transfers who didn’t play at an HBCU school last season).
HT: 6-foot-4 | WT: 225 kilos | Class: Senior
Land, arguably the highest player within the small-school ranks entering this season, finished 2021 leading the FCS in sacks (19) to associate with 25.5 tackles for loss. He entered the transfer portal and entertained multiple Power 5 offers but elected to return to the Rattlers. He’s expected to proceed to be one among the highest disruptive forces off the sting within the country this yr.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 295 | Class: Senior
Evans enters his fourth yr as a starter, and with one other successful season, he could possibly be the Golden Lions’ first draft pick since fellow tackle Terron Armstead was chosen in 2013. Coaches praise Evans’ physicality and football instincts, and he could follow within the footsteps of Southern offensive lineman Ja’Tyre Carter, whose stock rose steadily throughout his final season and the pre-draft process.
HT: 6-foot-4 | WT: 212 | Class: Junior
Over the past 10 years, South Carolina State has been one of the vital consistent FCS pipelines to the NFL, including Shaquille Leonard, Javon Hargrave and most recently Cobie Durant. Davis is anticipated to increase that spectacular streak. He has averaged 20.4 yards per catch over his profession and has a flexible skill set. Whether he mans the slot or lines up outside, he’s a mismatch for defenders. He still has two years of eligibility.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 204 | Class: Senior
With 21 touchdown catches in his past two seasons, including five over a four-game stretch to start out last yr, Bonds is a thin but explosive pass-catcher. He didn’t match his production from the 2019 season (70 catches, 943 receiving yards), but his yards-per-catch average increased from 13.5 to 14.3 yards. He has worked his way up the Pirates’ depth chart and enters his final season as one among the country’s most talented wideouts.
HT: 6-foot-6 | WT: 272 | Class: Senior
Averett broke out last season with 51 catches for 876 yards and 10 touchdown catches. He spent his first college season catching passes from Lamar Jackson at Louisville in 2017, but after being out of football and within the transfer portal for nearly two years, he became the Wildcats’ go-to goal. Averett averaged 17.2 yards per catch and recorded at the very least one touchdown in all but three games last season.
HT: 6-foot | WT: 188 | Class: Junior
Ibrahim walked onto the team before the 2019 season and has taken full advantage of the chance. “The identical hunger that he had early on has remained the identical up up to now, and it is not surprising what he’s became as a player,” one coach said. Ibrahim led the SWAC with 1,008 receiving yards last yr — his second straight 1,000-yard season — ranked third in catches (67) and finished sixth in receiving touchdowns (eight).
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 280 | Class: Senior
Pryor was the centerpiece of one of the vital complete defensive units within the Division II ranks a season ago. He broke out in 2019 with 25 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, and after the 2020 season was canceled, he tallied 21.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks in 2021. With powerful hands and a fast first step, he’s a tall task for single blocks and has the lower-body strength to stay firm against double-teams.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 250 | Class: Senior
One opposing head coach said Farmer has a robust case as one among the highest under-the-radar small-school prospects within the country. Coming off a 19 tackle-for-loss, 11.5-sack season, Farmer was voted the SIAC preseason Defensive Player of the 12 months. He understands how you can get to the quarterback and has a knack for creating disruption within the backfield.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 260 | Class: Redshirt junior
Green’s hustle, playmaking ability and ball pursuit creates infectious energy throughout South Carolina State’s defense. He also has the ability to overwhelm blockers at the purpose of attack with strong hands. A compact but well-built player, Green occupies the strong-side defensive end role but can even play as a standup outside linebacker. He totaled 19.5 tackles for loss last season and was named the MEAC preseason Defensive Player of the 12 months.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 215 | Class: Senior
Lewis is an integral a part of the Jaguars’ pass rush. After a breakout spring 2021 season wherein he recorded 15 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in five games, he won the Buck Buchanan Award as the highest FCS defensive player within the country and was named SWAC Defensive Player of the 12 months. He showed flashes of that dominance last fall, too, recording 10 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
HT: 6-foot-5 | WT: 240 | Class: Junior
Anderson and recent head coach Hue Jackson have brought excitement back to Grambling’s program. Anderson broke out as a sophomore, recording a team-high five sacks and seven.5 tackles for loss. But he is barely scratching the surface of his potential, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Anderson finds himself at the highest of this list next spring.
HT: 6-foot | WT: 235 | Class: Junior
Roberts has been the driving force behind the Aggies’ defense since stepping foot on campus in 2019. He has a physical presence at middle linebacker, plays with aggression against the run and is savvy in coverage. He’s instinctive on the second level with standout speed, and he led the team with 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. But Roberts can be a mainstay on special teams, as his 4 blocked punts were tied for probably the most within the nation last yr.
HT: 6-foot-1 | WT: 210 | Class: Junior
Huggins began his profession at Florida, transitioned to Garden City Junior College after which found a house with Jackson State — where he finished his first season with 43 tackles, six pass breakups and three tackles for loss at strong safety. The physical downhill striker is anticipated to be the leader of one among the more talented secondaries within the FCS this season.
HT: 5-foot-10 | WT: 170 | Class: Graduate student
Smith is one of the vital experienced players within the country. The previous walk-on has change into one among the most important fixtures of the Rattlers’ offense and is searching to regain his 2019 form, when he recorded career-highs in catches (77), receiving yards (1,159) and receiving touchdowns (11).
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HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 223 | Class: Redshirt junior
Wilson, a stocky but well-built runner, is probably the greatest rushers within the Division II ranks. After being named CIAA Rookie of the 12 months in 2019 while at Johnson C. Smith, he transferred to hitch the Wildcats and averaged 119.3 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry last season. He’s a solid tackle-breaker who can generate explosive runs in bunches.
HT: 5-foot-7 | WT: 175 | Class: Redshirt senior
Sheread transferred in from Texas State and led the nation in yards per punt return (19.9) while also handling slot receiver duties on offense. He led the team with nine receiving touchdowns in 2021. Sheread displays a lot of shiftiness and play strength, making it difficult for defenders to bring him down.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 225 | Class: Senior
A former four-star recruit and Missouri transfer, Miller led Jackson State with 109 tackles last yr. He rotates between linebacker and defensive end in sub-packages — though he is anticipated to primarily play middle linebacker this season — has an innate feel for ball locations and is a physical tackler.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 185 | Class: Senior
Isaac has the physical traits that intrigue NFL scouts. Though he hasn’t had a highly productive season stat-wise since 2019, Isaac displays efficient hips in his technique and lots of willingness as a tackler in run support. He just needs to place all of it together to make a jump up these rankings.
HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 285 | Class: Senior
Dumas, who followed coach Eric Dooley from Prairie View A&M over to Southern, could also be undersized as an interior player, but his explosiveness jumps out on film. He complements his great leverage on the position with strong hands and ending ability.
HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 175 | Class: Junior
Hill-Robinson was a vibrant spot for Bethune-Cookman in its first SWAC season last yr, tying for the conference lead with 4 interceptions. He’s a slim but talented corner with quick feet and timed patience in his press-man technique at the road. Hill-Robinson can have a difficult Week 1 matchup against Miami, which can function a possibility to showcase his skill set against a top quality Power 5 opponent.
HT: 6-foot-5 | WT: 190 | Class: Redshirt sophomore
After transferring from Tennessee, Wideman burst onto the scene with Jackson State with 12 touchdown receptions. He proved to be a threat contained in the red zone and within the open field as quarterback Shedeur Sanders’ No. 1 wideout.
HT: 6-foot | WT: 185 | Class: Senior
Scouts are still waiting for Warren to interrupt out. Formerly the top-ranked junior college player within the country, he showed flashes of his next-level talent through the 2021 spring but was inconsistent last fall with the Tigers. Warren is anticipated so as to add in some return duties this fall.
HT: 6-foot-1 | WT: 310 | Class: Redshirt junior
Jones has been a consistent anchor in the center from his 1-technique spot. He lines up totally on the middle’s outside shoulder, is stout against the run and provides some pass-rush impact at times. He stood out to me last yr within the Tigers’ season-opener against Grambling and again during a midseason matchup with Eastern Illinois.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 175 | Class: Redshirt sophomore
Long and rangy, Guthrie was one among the largest surprises within the MEAC last yr, tying for the conference lead with 4 interceptions and eight passes defensed. With a still-developing frame and three years of remaining eligibility, he has potential to maneuver up higher on this list.
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• The QBs » | Who’s No. 1? » | Sleepers »
• Projected order » | More coverage »
HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 170 | Class: Redshirt sophomore
After transferring from Cincinnati following the 2019 season, Davis was electric for the Spartans in 2021 with a MEAC-high 887 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. His 7.2 yards per carry also led the FCS. He has heightened expectations heading into this season, having been voted MEAC preseason Offensive Player of the 12 months.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 295 | Class: Redshirt senior
Williams has continued to grow and improve inside the Hornets’ defense each season. He only totaled 2.5 sacks last yr, but that won’t a real representation of how much pressure he puts on opposing blockers. He ranked third within the MEAC with 11.5 tackles for loss and appears to construct upon that as a senior.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 195 | Class: Junior
Richard is the one quarterback on this list and enters a critical junior season that would catapult him into the highest tier of FCS signal callers. The poised pocket-passer can win with each his arm (15 passing touchdowns) and his legs (eight rushing touchdowns). From his freshman to sophomore season, his completion percentage jumped from 52% to 58%, and his TD-INT ratio improved from 12-to-9 to 15-to-6.
HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 195 | Class: Redshirt sophomore
Sanders transferred from South Carolina after the 2020 season, and his hard-hitting physicality stands out on tape. He proved to be a playmaker in coverage, too, tying for the conference-lead in interceptions (4) last yr.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 265 | Class: Senior
Brokenburr is a well-built strong-side defensive end with powerful hands to overwhelm blockers. He’s a dependable and promising run defender but needs so as to add more moves to his pass-rush repertoire.
HT: 5-foot-8 | WT: 170 | Class: Junior
Codrington is a reliable outside corner with intriguing physical traits and lots of speed to burn. And he broke out last yr as a return specialist, averaging 22.5 yards per kickoff return and 15 yards per punt — third within the FCS.
HT: 6-foot-1 | WT: 220 | Class: Senior
Green has quickly asserted himself as one among the higher players on coach Eddie George’s defense. Although he plays totally on the weak side on the Will linebacker spot, he is usually deployed as a blitzer and recorded seven tackles for loss last season. His fluidity stands out in coverage, as he’s a loose mover who can cover ground.
HT: 5-foot-8 | WT: 182 | Class: Senior
The younger brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers corner Carlton Davis III, Irshaad Davis has played everywhere in the Hornets’ defense. He’s a terrific blitzer who displays a variety of physicality and maximizes his impact from the slot, and he might be a pacesetter on Alabama State’s defense.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 340 | Class: Senior
After spending time at Hutchinson Community College (Kansas), Lacey has anchored Tennessee State’s offensive front — specifically at left guard — since joining this system in 2019. He’s at his best when he plows open run lanes on the inside. But scouts would love to see him change into more consistent in pass protection.
HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 180 | Class: Redshirt senior
Despite his size, Bohler has been a ball magnet on the skin for the Rattlers’ defense. He finished tied for sixth in passes defensed (16) and eighth in interceptions (4) last season. Bohler could carve out a task as a beneficial nickel corner moving forward, and he can be a core special-teams player.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 190 | Class: Junior
Davis is a protracted, speedy player who shows a variety of range and continues a protracted lineage of productive defenders inside the program. He’s coming off a standout Celebration Bowl victory over Jackson State (including a fumble recovery).
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HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 205 | Class: Junior
Johnson was a pleasing surprise for the Delta Devils last season, becoming this system’s first running back since 1999 to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards (1,004). A smooth and fluid rusher, he could climb the record books if he builds on that 2021 season wherein he averaged 91.3 yards per game.
HT: 6-foot-6 | WT: 305 | Class: Senior
After originally starting his profession at rival North Carolina Central, Lee has been a consistent pass protector for the Aggies. He gained experience at right tackle during his first two years before transitioning to the left side. Lee has room to fill out his frame and will function an intriguing developmental prospect if he gains strength and improves his consistency as a run blocker.
HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 180 | Class: Senior
Savage defended 10 passes and intercepted three more last season, with each numbers rating second within the MEAC. Though confident on the skin, he likely projects as a nickel corner at the following level.
HT: 5-foot-10 | WT: 190 | Class: Graduate student
Cornerback Joshua Williams was Fayetteville State’s first draftee since 1976. Opposite him was Barnes-Brown, who made his presence known with eight pass breakups and a conference-leading five interceptions.
HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 235 | Class: Junior
Godbolt improved because the 2021 season went on, recording 11.5 of his 12.5 tackles for loss through the Bulldogs’ final six games. While the lanky and explosive edge rusher remains to be determining how you can utilize all his tools, he could construct off that momentum with more reps.
HT: 6-foot-2 | WT: 205 | Class: Senior
Considered a breakout candidate inside Deion Sanders’ program, the Florida State transfer is already amongst probably the most potent special-teams playmakers within the country. He had two return touchdowns last season, and his 36.9 yards per kickoff return topped each the FBS and FCS. With De’Jahn Warren and Travis Hunter expected to start out at outside corner, Bolden might be the teams’ starting nickel this season.
HT: 6-foot-8 | WT: 335 | Class: Senior
Dunkwah has improved his physicality and demeanor as a run blocker, but his pass-protecting abilities are still raw. Still, he has improved his game each season, and his size and traits are evident.
HT: 6-foot-1 | WT: 210 | Class: Junior
Beard broke out during his first season as a full-time starting middle linebacker, leading the team in tackles (78) and sacks (five) to associate with his 8.5 tackles for loss. Beard can be a mainstay on special-teams, as he was instrumental in helping the unit finish second within the country in blocked punts.
HT: 5-foot-10 | WT: 175 | Class: Senior
Morsell spent his first three seasons at Bowie State before transferring to Southern. He was CIAA Defensive Player of the 12 months in 2019 with nine interceptions but has battled injuries since. Morsell had five pass breakups in 11 games last yr.
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HT: 6-foot-3 | WT: 240 | Class: Senior
McDaniel broke out in 2019, however the 2020 season was canceled and injuries limited him to only five games last yr. He recorded 4.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks in those five games, and he hopes to remain healthy enough to affect the Aggies’ defensive front as he returns for a fifth season.
HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 188 | Class: Senior
Murray is seeking to construct off a productive junior season wherein he recorded 629 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns. He showed off his big-play potential and demonstrated his strong hands and body control on the catch point. And he scored five times in his final 4 games.
HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 190 | Class: Senior
After dabbling within the transfer portal for just a few weeks, Gibbs opted to return to Raleigh. He’s a troublesome runner who stresses defenses, and he ran for 948 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2021. Scouts are in search of Gibbs to generate more explosive plays and show he can avoid incoming safeties on the third level.
HT: 5-foot-9 | WT: 165 | Class: Senior
Evelyn is electrifying in multiple areas for the Dragons, because the return specialist and receiver’s 1,624 all-purpose yards led the SIAC last season. His speed and talent to create explosive plays have remained consistent throughout his profession.
HT: 6-foot | WT: 250 | Class: Senior
Thomas recorded a team-leading 6.5 sacks last season and is anticipated to step up because the leader of the defense this yr. He’s a compactly built pass-rusher with strong hands, and he has some versatility.
HT: 5-foot-11 | WT: 205 | Class: Senior
Hagans began slow in 2021 but caught steam down the stretch, including a 199-yard performance against reigning conference champion Bowie State last October. Stout and speedy, he was reportedly clocked within the low 4.4s within the 40-yard dash in front of scouts last spring. Despite his limited production, many across the conference consider he could break out further this yr.